Since I am still about a week behind on blogging activities, I wanted follow up to an earlier post where I mentioned that I was judging a business plan competition at UMBC in conjunction with Entrepreneurship Week USA which ran from Feb 24th - March 3rd. The event was great and we actually had two first place winners. Congrats to both teams!
The 2 first place winners are:
Company Name: Auto Soundtrack
Students: Sandorn Dornbush, Computer Science PhD Student and Alark Joshi, Computer Science PhD Student
Idea: Use advanced artificial intelligence techniques to learn how a person’s music preference varies over time and external conditions. It does this by learning its owners’ musical preferences for different activities, then automatically tailors the music selections accordingly (ex: plays fast music when a person is working out, calmer music when in the office, etc.). Prototype devices have been developed and Sandor and Alark are currently working on consumer applications. They have recently partnered with Nokia Research to bring Auto Soundtrack to Nokia headsets.
Sandorn and Alark were very passionate about their idea and are actively developing it with Nokia as a research partner. They are aware of the Last.FM’s of the world and seem to be on the edge of taking their technology to the next level. This was definitely an interesting idea that will no doubt be developed.
Company Name: Phoenix Circuit Boards
Student: John Keyser, Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student
Idea: Develop cutting edge aftermarket electronic control boards for paintball games to fill the niche market for high-performance, feature-packed boards. Paintball is a $1.5 billion dollar per year industry and is ranked as the third fastest growing extreme sport behind snowboarding and skateboarding. John currently has 2 boards in
Talk about a niche play. I admit when I first heard about this I didn’t really understand, but then after listening to John present, and learning how big the paintball market is (and growing), it was clear there was a great opportunity for this product launch. Great job finding a market thats underserved with an up sell / cross-sell opporuntity. Apparently, there are alot of people who are into “mod’ing” up their paintball guns with advanced circuit boards
Congrats to both teams!